Making right the wrongful convictions

Statue of Timothy Cole - wrongfully convicted man who died behind bars

Statue of Timothy Cole – wrongfully convicted man who died behind bars


Kyla Herrmannsen

Those who have been wrongfully convicted often seek financial compensation upon release but, in some countries, the ‘right’ to compensation is not necessarily built in to law. In fact, some debate whether wrongfully convicted people should be allowed to be compensated at all.

Currently, the United Kingdom is drafting legislation to curb compensation to the wrongfully convicted. The clause which was included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill will alter existing law under which wrongfully convicted people can claim compensation if new evidence comes to the fore that demonstrates “beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice”.

In stark contrast, a bill is being considered in Sarasota, Florida, that could aid a wrongfully convicted man in receiving financial compensation. James Richardson, convicted for murder, served 21 years behind bars before a special investigation overturned the original ruling. Now, he is seeking compensation. Richardson was one of the first people to apply for compensation under Joyner’s Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act in 2008 but his application was denied. Currently, a bill that if passed will loosen the state’s criteria for awarding compensation is under discussion at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One a completely different note, instead of financially compensating wrongfully accused Timothy Cole who died in prison, the City of Lubbock is seeking to make amends through erecting a statue in Cole’s memory. Cole was convicted of rape in 1986, he then died behind bars in 1999 only to be proven innocent through DNA evidence in 2009.

Read more about righting wrongful convictions here:

Wrongful conviction, unequal compensation

Wrongfully convicted man sues city, police

Anthony Caravella Lawsuit: Broward Man Freed By DNA After 26 Years In Prison Sues Officers Accused Of Framing Him

Jury awards $9M to wrongfully convicted officer

Should Those Who Are Wrongly Convicted Be Compensated?

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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